AR Games Won’t Last

It’s mighty impressive what can appear to in you real world, looking through your phone (or glasses). Augmented reality will be a great tool for getting practical things done, and sharing data and information.

But for playing games, there’s only two real differences between AR and VR games:

  • You pretend that it is happening in your current real world environment
  • You walk around looking like an idiot to everyone else, and potentially harming yourself

Given that virtual worlds can look like anything imaginable, including the real world, why limit a game to the current surroundings?

Just like how very few people talk on phones in public without holding the phone up to your head, people won’t be playing AR games in public. They’ll play in dedicated spaces at venues or at home.

Sorry, Magic Leap.

Moving in Virtual Reality: A Stationary Segway Exo-Skeleton

Sure, virtual reality headsets will be a big part of gaming in the future, but they have major limitations. If you can feel immersed in a 360-degree environment, you will want to explore. And clearly you will want your hands free to hold weapons, open doors, make love etc.

So you will need to move forward, back, left and right using your legs – but without actually going anywhere in the real world.

Ultimately you would want a treadmill-like floor surface that moves in every direction and responds to how fast you are walking or running. That could be decades away, although studies have begun – see here.

In the interim, I suggest existing technology. The Wii Balance Board has been explored – see here – but I have to admit I have never used one myself. I do however feel that it is too subtle for serious gaming.

Why not the bottom half of a Segway? You still steer and accelerate/brake by shifting your weight. But you would have your legs locked in place, like an exo-skeleton, so that your hands are free. The machine would be fixed to the floor (or really heavy?) so that when you swing your broadsword at a VR troll, you don’t fall over.

 UPDATE: Funded via KickStarter and available in 2014 (pre-order now) is the Virtuix omnidirectional gaming treadmill